Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for NIH Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (CounterACT) Early-stage Investigator Research Award
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:
February 23, 2021
Estimated Publication Date of Funding Opportunity Announcement:
March 27, 2021
First Estimated Application Due Date:
July 27, 2021
Earliest Estimated Award Date:
March 22, 2022
Earliest Estimated Start Date:
April 05, 2022
Related Announcements

PAR-20-253 - Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (CounterACT) Exploratory/Developmental Projects (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Issued by

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

National Eye Institute (NEI)

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)


The NIH Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (CounterACT) program intends to publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to solicit applications to encourage Early Stage Investigators (ESI) to pursue exploratory/developmental, applied, proof of concept, or high risk-high impact research to discover safe and effective therapeutics to mitigate toxicities resulting from exposures to highly toxic chemicals.

This Notice is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations and responsive projects. 

The FOA is expected to be published in March 2021 with an expected application due date in July 2021.

This FOA will utilize the R21 activity code. Details of the planned FOA are provided below.

Research Initiative Details

The NIH Chemical Countermeasures Research Program (CCRP) was established in 2006 by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to lead the research and early development of novel or improved therapeutics to mitigate the acute and long-term health effects of chemicals that have been identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as high consequence public health threats. These public health threat agents are highly toxic chemicals that could cause mass casualties after either deliberate terrorism-related release or inadvertently in the event of an industrial accident or natural disaster. The chemical threat spectrum includes chemical warfare agents (CWAs), toxic industrial chemicals and materials (TICs/TIMs), and pharmaceutical-based agents (PBAs).The CCRP is a trans-NIH effort, involving partnerships with the NEI, NIAID, NIAMS, NICHD, NIEHS, NIDA, and NINDS to execute the overall NIH Strategic Plan and Research Agenda for Medical Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats under the NIAID oversight and coordination.

Under the CCRP, the NIH Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (CounterACT) grant and cooperative agreement program supports a network of extramural grants (R21), cooperative agreements (U01), and Centers (U54) that conduct research and early development of medical countermeasures (MCMs) to reduce mortality and morbidity during and/or after high consequence public emergency events involving the release of chemical agents.

This FOA is intended to encourage ESIs to pursue research programs of interest to the NIH CounterACT program. This FOA employs an enhanced R21 Research Grant mechanism to provide up to $400,000 in direct costs over three years (no more than $200,000 in any one year), allowing expanded time and resources to develop a research project and support ESIs.

All applicants to this FOA must meet the NIH definition of an Early Stage Investigators (ESI) at the time of submission. Additionally, to increase the diversity of the NIH research community, applications from ESI investigators that are underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral or clinical research workforce, such as those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, those with disabilities, those from disadvantaged backgrounds and women, are encouraged.

This FOA encourages applications for exploratory and developmental research projects to identify potential mechanisms of chemical toxicity and discover molecular targets for the development of novel MCMs. Pilot studies under this FOA may include basic research to identify candidate therapeutic targets, the creation and validation of screening assays for therapy development, and development of proof-of-principle efficacy data for the candidate therapy compounds. It is expected that these R21 projects will generate preliminary data that would facilitate the development of competitive applications for more extensive support from the NIH CounterACT Cooperative Agreement programs or other related initiatives.

Preliminary Data: A distinct feature for this FOA is that no preliminary data are required, expected, or encouraged. However, if available, some minimal preliminary data is allowed. Preliminary data are defined as material which the applicant has independently produced and not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal. All preliminary data must be clearly marked and limited to one-half page, which may include one figure. Applications including more than one half-page of preliminary data or more than one figure will be withdrawn. References and data from widely available preprints that have a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) are considered published.

Chemical Threats supported by this FOA are included on the current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) List of Chemicals of Concern, which is for U.S. Government official use only and cannot be published.

However, to aid in the selection of the chemical threats(s), the following are examples of over 200 chemicals threat agents. These examples are categorized in Toxidromes grouped by mechanism of action and the toxic effects of the agents.

Chemical Threat Toxidromes

  • Anticoagulants (brodifacoum, bromadiolone)
  • Blood agents (hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen sulfide)
  • Cholinergic warfare (sarin, soman, VX)
  • Cholinergic pesticides (parathion, chlorpyrifos, phorate, aldicarb)
  • Convulsant (picrotoxin, TETS, strychnine)
  • Hemolytic/Metabolic (arsenic trioxide, thallium sulfate, arsine)
  • Opioids (fentanyl, diacetyl morphine)
  • Lower pulmonary (chlorine, phosgene)
  • Upper pulmonary (ammonia, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen fluoride)
  • Vesicants (sulfur and nitrogen mustard, phosgene oxime)

Applicants are strongly urged to contact the NIH staff (listed below) to determine if their proposed threat agent(s) is of interest for this FOA.

Applications Not Responsive to this FOA:

The following applications will be considered non-responsive and will not be reviewed for this FOA:

  • Applications that propose research on chemical threats that are not on the current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) List of Chemicals of Concern
  • Projects where pretreatment/prophylaxis studies exceed 25% of the proposed effort
  • Investigators that do not meet the NIH definition of an ESI at the time of submission (if submitting a multiple-PD/PI application, all multiple-PD/PIs must fit the NIH ESI definition).
  • Applications including more than one half-page of preliminary data or more than one figure will be considered noncompliant with the FOA instructions and not go forward to review
Funding Information
Estimated Total Funding
Expected Number of Awards
Estimated Award Ceiling
Primary CFDA Numbers
Anticipated Eligible Organizations
Public/State Controlled Institution of Higher Education
Private Institution of Higher Education
For-Profit Organization (Other than Small Business)
State Government
Indian/Native American Tribal Government (Federally Recognized)
Indian/Native American Tribally Designated Organization (Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
County governments
Independent school districts
Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities
U.S. Territory or Possession
Indian/Native American Tribal Government (Other than Federally Recognized)
Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government
Regional Organization
Nonprofit with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institution of Higher Education)
Small Business

Applications are not being solicited at this time. 


Please direct all inquiries to:

Shardell M. Spriggs, PhD

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)


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NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices